AFA: A Lesson in the History of Pop Culture Art

AFA (Animazing Fine Art) in Soho is a much welcomed exhibition space amidst New York City's sea of cold, white cube galleries.  We stopped in this past weekend to check out artist Bill Carmen's new show "Foibled," which presents a collection of smallish-scale paintings on wood and copper.  The images are rich with detail, fantastical and dark, and often present humans and imaginative creatures stuck in sticky situations.  Favorites included Narbombs and Beeprepared.

The gallery is very big and "Foibled" is being presented in conjunction with a second  show titled "2013 Collector's Group Exhibition."  You don't have to look very far to realize that something very special is happening on the rest of the walls at AFA.  Big names of the new contemporary art movement such as Joe Sorren, Travis Louie, Nicolette Ceccoli, Kathy Olivia, and Kukula are paired with masters of illustration Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, Charles M. Shulz, and Bill Watterson.  

We are presented with a delightful history lesson on Pop Culture Art as told by the movement's most original and entertaining voices.  Original drawings from "Peanuts," "Calvin and Hobbs," "Where the Wild Things Are," and "Green Eggs and Ham" evoke nostalgic memories from childhood when we would lose ourselves in these short stories filled with unforgettable characters and lessons learned.

It is most interesting to see how the dialogue between popular culture and art has shaped and shifted between generations.  The linear, simply colored, and often humorous earlier works on paper give way to dark, surrealistic paintings rich in detail and color.  A constant remains, however, between past and present.  All of these artists have created art that speaks to the everyday lives, interests, and concerns of their audience at the time of production.

AFA is located at 54 Greene Street (at Broome) in the Soho neighborhood of New York City.